[opendtv] Analysis: They're going to CES
- From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
- To: OpenDTV Mail List <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Thu, 6 Jan 2005 08:13:11 -0500
My how times have changed in the "video" business... When I worked at Grass Valley in the early '80s,=20 there were only a few places to go to get useful=20 info about the directions the video industry was=20 growing. NAB was and still is "Mecca" for video=20 equipment manufacturers. One could go to NAB and=20 see exactly where television was going , because=20 Broadcasting WAS television. Cable was just=20 starting to have an impact on broadcasters.=20 Innovation was primarily being driven by a=20 handful of big customers...i.e. the Networks, who=20 had run their own R&D labs for decades. And=20 innovations were primarily related to what one=20 could do to manipulate a good old SDTV image, or=20 to acquire or record these images with higher=20 quality at lower prices. I came to Grass Valley to develop a new market.=20 At the time it was called Educational and=20 Industrial TV, or business and institutional=20 video, or corporate video. This stuff was=20 beginning to bubble up at NAB, however if you=20 really wanted tu understand these emerging=20 markets, you went to smaller regional shows and=20 shows that were put together by your dealers. Or=20 you went and visited some of the early pioneering=20 facilities that were trying to use new lower cost=20 gear to produce NON-Broadcast video. One major show that was not on the "radar" was=20 CES. Why bother with the guys who build the TVs.=20 WE controlled innovation. THEY just provided the=20 screens upon which we did our magic. The CE=20 divisions of companies like Sony and Panasonic=20 were irrelevant to us. We controlled the Vertical We controlled the Horizontal CE manufacturers operated near the Outer Limits=20 of an industry that we - and our broadcaster=20 customers - dominated. We did pay attention to cable; the Western Cable=20 Show was very much on the radar screen. The new=20 cable networks were customers, and the Western=20 Show was where they went to look at equipment.=20 Now it is just a programming affair. After I left GVG this whole HDTV thing started to=20 bubble up, while cable continued to build its=20 empire. And this whole Desktop Video thing=20 started to get some traction, thanks to the rapid=20 growth of the PC industry. To some it looked like=20 the PC might gobble up everything. When I got involved in the U.S. Advanced=20 Television process in 1992 it quickly became=20 apparent that the CE industry was making the=20 investments to control the next generation of TV.=20 They dominated the U.S. DTV process (they still=20 do for that matter). Sony and Panasonic could=20 push their agendas on two fronts, providing HD=20 production gear for broadcasters, and HD displays=20 for consumers. They had tremendous influence over=20 technical decisions and standards. When I attended my first CES in 1993, I expected=20 to see lots of people I knew. I was wrong. Like=20 NAB today, there were hardly ANY broadcasters to=20 be found. The only people I recognized were the=20 folks from the CE industry I was working with on=20 ACATS and ATSC committees. Within a year or two, however, that picture began=20 to change. Innovation in video production was=20 moving out of the hardware realm into the=20 software realm. Desktop Video changed the way=20 people put TV programs together; it also changed=20 the look of TV, allowing creative types to=20 manipulate images and to composite them in ways=20 that were virtually impossible with a DVE and a=20 Switcher. CES moved onto the radar screen since=20 it was the place to go to see how people would=20 use HDTV and all the other affordable gadgets=20 that were transforming the CE business, including=20 PCs. Equally important, CES is where the big boys=20 went to pontificate about where we were headed. Bill Gates became a keynote star, trotting out=20 one vision of the future after another. I began=20 to see many familiar faces from what was left of=20 U.S. video equipment manufacturers. One year=20 Microsoft built a "Home of the Future,"=20 demonstrating how digital media content would be=20 shared among various CE and PC devices. Meanwhile, as I said, the Western Cable Show=20 became a programming forum. The cable industry=20 was now fully entrenched, even as the old media=20 conglomerates began to assimilate the programming=20 that it relies upon. The cable guys had their own=20 equipment vendors; they were effectively keeping=20 the CE industry at bay, even as Congress and the=20 =46CC began to demand they they open up the market=20 for cable set-top boxes. Then DBS happened. The CE industry did an end run around cable,=20 working with the DBS systems to build the boxes=20 and to drive innovation. More important, they=20 developed for themselves, and their CE retailer=20 partners, a new source of revenue - spiffs and=20 royalties for every consumer they could sign up=20 for a DBS service. They did much the same with DVD and HDTV. They=20 controlled the MPEG-2 process and turned MPEG-2=20 into a huge new royalty stream. They controlled=20 DVD and established a precedent of paying=20 royalties for a technology, as part of the cost=20 of the content. And CE retailers cashed in on the=20 ability to sell DVD content, bypassing cable and=20 broadcast distribution. What the CE industry did NOT do was help build a=20 market for broadcast DTV. They did not need to;=20 the broadcasters were only too happy to let the=20 CE industry push the HDTV ball while broadcasters=20 continue to milk NTSC. With help from their DBS partners, the CE=20 industry began to drive innovation in TV. When=20 they offered NVOD the cable industry was forced=20 to respond. When they added PVRs to their boxes,=20 the cable industry was forced to respond. When=20 they started to offer interactive services the=20 cable industry was forced to respond. As you will learn in the story that follows, CES=20 is NOW on the radar screens of the Cable=20 industry. The article tells you what these folks=20 are going to be looking for in Las Vegas. It=20 SHOULD tell you something about where we are=20 headed, despite all of the nay saying from some=20 of the curmudgeons on this list that this=20 convergence thing will never happen... Regards Craig My how things have changed January 5, 2005 10:05am Multichannel News Two years ago, ESPN sent four people to the=20 Consumer Electronics Show. Last year, they sent=20 20. Later this week, when the 2005 CES opens=20 (Jan. 5-9), ESPN will have more than 70 people in=20 attendance. True, the company will be launching the HDTV feed=20 for ESPN2, but the sharp spike in attendance is=20 emblematic of a larger trend: cable programmers=20 find consumer electronics a key growth area for=20 their companies. The interest is being returned. CES invited MTV=20 Networks president Judith McGrath to be a keynote=20 speaker. This is believed to be the first time a=20 cable programming executive has delivered a major=20 address to the CE crowd. Cable & Telecommunications Association for=20 Marketing has split its annual tour of the floor=20 into two sessions for the first time this year,=20 with a separate programming version scheduled for=20 Jan. 7, a day after CTAM's MSO marketing and=20 business development types cruise the aisles.=20 (Cable Television laboratories Inc. also will=20 provide a tour for senior MSO and engineering=20 executives.) =46or ESPN, the CES has grown in importance because=20 "we are becoming a retail-oriented brand," says=20 Bryan Burns, vice president of strategy business=20 planning and development at ESPN, "totally=20 related to CE space." And ESPN is pulling out all the stops. It is=20 co-sponsoring the grand lobby stage in the main=20 entrance to the Las Vegas Convention Center.=20 "That's a huge message," says Burns. As for the consumer gear at CES, ESPN has many=20 touch points, including HDTV, direct-broadcast=20 satellite, broadband and wireless devices, for=20 not only programming but branded ESPN=20 merchandise. The company recently announced a=20 branded wireless phone venture with Sprint Corp.=20 ESPN branded merchandise can even show up in=20 boats, courtesy of its outdoor division, Burns=20 says. "We take all our various brands [to CES]," Burns=20 says. "It's how our company is embracing consumer=20 electronics, because it is our future." ESPN2 launches in HD on Jan. 6, with three=20 college basketball games. As part of the launch=20 of ESPN2 in HD, ESPN has invited consumers to go=20 online and vote which game they'd like basketball=20 analyst Dick Vitale to broadcast from that day.=20 The "Send Dick V Packing!" promotion provides=20 three choices: the Memphis at Texas game, DePaul=20 at Cincinnati or Gonzaga at Santa Clara. The=20 selection was scheduled to be announced Jan. 1.=20 ESPN2 will carry 82 HD contests in the first 83=20 days of 2005. The network is also hosting a reception and=20 screening at CES for its latest original program,=20 the series Tilt , a behind-the-scenes look at=20 poker, which premieres Jan. 13. HD also is on The Weather Channel's radar. Susan=20 Scott, the network's senior vice president of=20 distribution, says her team will study HDTV=20 trends, as it looks to add HD long form=20 programming. =46or the first time in several years, Scott won't=20 attend CES due to her responsibilities as=20 chairman of Women in Cable & Telecommunications,=20 but she's sending a team. In addition to HD, TWC=20 has a particular interest in home networking. "We're trying to get an understanding what are=20 the options for our distribution customers=20 because of weather.com ," she says. "I've also=20 got my people going to mobile electronics areas.=20 And we're very interested in emerging=20 technologies. We want to understand whether it is=20 possible and viable to have voicemail delivered=20 aurally via TV." She adds that TWC is trying to limit where its=20 on-demand services and interactivity can go. Kevin Cohen, senior vice president and general=20 manager of interactive and enhanced TV at Turner=20 Cable Network Sales, is a CES veteran. He has a=20 long list of items on his activity list. "We'll=20 be seeing what's on the horizon with=20 time-shifting devices, in the linear and=20 nonlinear space. We'll see what types of success=20 the Moxie folks are having and any new additions=20 to Motorola [Inc.] set-tops, multi-tuner [digital=20 video recorders], and the Hewlett Packard [Co.]=20 multimedia center that runs the Microsoft media=20 center." Also on the list: devices with WiFi built into=20 them, Internet protocol-based set-top boxes, TiVo=20 Inc.'s next generation set-tops and devices that=20 access content through broadband connections.=20 Turner has signed a deal with one such company,=20 Akimbo Systems. "We'll see what else is out=20 there," Cohen says. "We'll see what affiliates are looking at to=20 expand their [video-on-demand] offerings, and=20 what new types of VOD services are on the=20 horizon," he says. Cohen says he believed it's=20 too early to tell if telco IPTV deployments will=20 be successful. "We're not going to know about=20 that for quite some period of time. The telcos=20 have a bit of an uphill battle, just getting=20 their system set up," Cohen says. Wireless has been a key technology at Turner for=20 years, particularly at Cable News Network. The=20 network has delivered content to cell phones and=20 short message service phones for years. In the=20 past year, it struck a deal to send video clips=20 as part of a subscription service to Sprint=20 subscribers. Consumers can pay $4.95 a month and get access to=20 20 to 30 video clips a day, ranging in length=20 from 30 seconds to two minutes, says Bill=20 Stratton, vice president at TCNS. "We're pleased=20 with CNN on the phone," he says. The network also=20 sells short-form content from Cartoon Network and=20 Adult Swim, for $3.95 a month each, on those=20 phones. There are 15 to 25 clips with each service, on=20 the one-minute range. "We're very pleased with=20 how that is doing," Stratton says. Better wireless broadband services, including=20 evolution data only (EVDO) and 3G, are in the=20 offing. "At CES we'll be looking at different=20 form functions of devices that are out there,"=20 Stratton says. "Screens on phones have certain=20 aspect ratios. We want to begin to understand=20 aspect ratios, because it's very different from=20 TV. That's one of the bigger challenges." Cohen also will take stock of interactive TV.=20 Turner has dabbled with a number of news and=20 entertainment ITV functions, both on the TV and=20 with wireless devices. "I'm very encouraged about enhanced TV and ITV,"=20 he says. "ITV gaming will be big opportunity in=20 2005," he says, citing Cartoon Network's gaming=20 success in the United Kingdom. "It could become=20 more and more a reality in this marketplace. The=20 DBS folks are putting out set-top boxes with=20 middleware that can do enhanced TV. There is a=20 fair amount of experimentation with one-screen=20 interactivity with key affiliates. It's all about=20 finding the right content for this platform." One idea is to provide some of the massive=20 amounts of information on cnn.com to ITV users.=20 On election night alone, there were 650 million=20 page views to cnn.com, Cohen says. "We could take=20 a relevant portion of that content and make that=20 available while they are watching our network." Portable video devices are another frontier.=20 "Arcos has a portable media player," Cohen says,=20 "although it's still a little bit kludgy. There=20 are gaming devices that also playback video. We=20 want to understand the portable video space." HDTV, broadband content and VOD will be major=20 targets for Albert Cheng, senior vice president=20 of business strategy and development for Disney=20 and ESPN Networks Affiliate Sales and Marketing. "Unlike other cable shows, what CES brings for us=20 is a view of what CE companies are trying to=20 develop for the consumer," Cheng says. "The main push is HD," he says, echoing Burns' sentiment with ESPN2. They are also looking into the continued=20 evolution of mobile content, including delivery=20 to automobiles. "We're going to see where that's=20 going." "There is also broadband and home networking," he=20 says, noting that The Walt Disney Co. has the=20 Disney Connection, ESPN Broadband and ABC News=20 broadband content. "We get a lot of usage," he=20 says, across those services, all enabled by=20 broadband." Copyright =A9 2005 Reed Business Information. All Rights Reserved. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- You can UNSUBSCRIBE from the OpenDTV list in two ways: - Using the UNSUBSCRIBE command in your user configuration settings at FreeLists.org - By sending a message to: opendtv-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word unsubscribe in the subject line.
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